FL professor & wife accused of spying for Cuba

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Florida college professor and his wife have been indicted on charges that they are illegal foreign agents and passed on non-classified information to Cuba.

Florida International University (FIU) education professor Carlos Alvarez, 61, and his wife Elsa, 55, were ordered to be held without bond or bail on Monday. The U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea Simonton sided with federal prosecution arguments stating the couple would leave their five children and flee to Cuba if granted bail.

Neither of the two entered pleas in Miami Federal Court to the charge that they failed to register themselves as agents from a foreign government.

The couple are reported to have lived "low-profile lives" in the academic community. Despite strong criticism from friends and colleagues, federal agents say that the Alvarezes have been "secretly spying for the Cuban government for decades, using all their academic background as covers."

Citing university policy, FIU put the Alvarezes on administrative leave, with pay Monday, the first day of school for spring semester. Supervisors were asked to relay all questions to FIU's media relations director, Mark Riordan.

The Alvarezes were, however, not charged with the more serious crime of espionage, but the indictment does state that they were trained and equipped by Cuba's Directorate of Intelligence and recruited "young people of Cuban heritage" in the U.S. to be spies.

The charge carries up to a 10-year prison term and fines up to $250,000.